The Stuttgart-based club has agreed a wide-ranging sponsorship deal with luxury car manufacturer Porsche, including the naming rights to its stadium. As soon as the details of the agreement are finalised, existing sponsor Mercedes-Benz, which also sells premium vehicles, will disappear from the venue's name.
VfB Stuttgart will cooperate with Porsche
The club from Baden-Württemberg, which plays in the German Bundesliga, has not performed at a high level for several years. In the 2015/16 season, it was relegated to the second tier of the competition, only to return to the elite after a year in the lower division. VfB played two more seasons in the Bundesliga, but again a decline in form happened and Die Roten ended up in the lower division. They have been playing in the German top flight since 2020/21, but usually occupy places at the bottom of the table. Adding to the uninspiring sporting situation, there were also financial troubles, caused among other things by the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited the club's matchday income.
VfB's day-to-day fixture takes place at Mercedes-Benz Arena, which can seat 60,449 spectators, and the lack of fans in the stands had a disastrous effect on the team's budget. Now, however, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Stuttgart, thanks to a new sponsor, which will be Porsche. The company, part of the Volkswagen Group, is based in the Baden-Württemberg capital and has reached an essential agreement with the club regarding a sponsorship deal.
VfB officials said the investment could be worth more than €100 million. These funds are expected to significantly repair the club's finances. As part of the deal, Mercedes-Benz would relinquish its naming rights to the Stuttgart-based club's home ground, with MHP taking its place as part of an initial 10-year agreement. Porsche has a majority stake in this company, which provides management and IT consultancy. The stadium itself, meanwhile, will be renamed as MHPArena.
Porsche also intends to take on additional VfB sponsorship packages, with talks to join Mercedes-Benz and sportswear company Jako, the club's uniform supplier, as shareholders in VfB Stuttgart AG. Die Roten in 2017 decided to sell a maximum of 24.9% of the club's shares, with Mercedes-Benz committing to an initial 11.75% stake, followed by Jako acquiring a 1.16% stake in March 2022. Mercedes-Benz will, however, remain the club's main investor and the exclusive partner and mobility partner of the club.
In the future, Mercedes-Benz Bank will become a business partner of VfB and focus its activities on hospitality services for business customers and employees. At the same time, Mercedes-Benz Bank's involvement as headline and shirt sponsor will come to an end, and the Mercedes-EQ logo will disappear from the sleeves of the players' jerseys. VfB will be able to sell these rights from the upcoming 2023/24 season.
Mercedes-Benz Park undergoes modernisation
The stadium where VfB Stuttgart plays is currently undergoing redevelopment in preparation for next year's Euros. As part of the modernisation of Mercedes-Benz Arena, the lower part of the main stand is to be renovated in particular. It will receive new, more extensive facilities. Underneath it, there will be new media rooms, changing rooms, a kitchen and hospitality areas, including an exclusive "Tunnelclub" for 200 guests, from which it will be possible to watch the footballers in the tunnel leading from the changing rooms to the pitch.
Kiosks will be refurbished throughout the stadium, and pedestrian routes are also to be improved. The floodlights will be replaced by LEDs, photovoltaic panels will be installed on the roof structure and a new sound system will be installed. There will be 2,000 more standing places on the so-called 'Cannstatter Kurve', as well as additional spaces for wheelchair users. The total capacity of the stadium will be reduced slightly, from 60,449 to 60,030 spectators. The cost of the works is expected to be around €130 million and will be covered jointly by VfB Stuttgart, the city and the stadium management company (Stadion Neckar Park KG).
Throughout the works, Die Roten have performed and will continue to perform at Mercedes-Benz Arena. Due to the reconstruction of the lower part of the main stand, seats in this area are unavailable, and the number of seats in the upper level of this stand has also been reduced to a small extent, so that the stadium capacity has been temporarily reduced from 60,449 to 47,500 spectators for the 2022/23 season. From the start of the 2023/24 season, however, seats in the reconstructed part of the main stand are to be gradually made available. Full completion of the works is expected in early 2024, before the start of the spring round.
Check out how the Mercedes-Benz Arena compares to other Bundesliga stadiums in a video from our YouTube channel: